Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yogi Berra's Treasures Stolen from Museum

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yogi Berra's Treasures Stolen from Museum

Article excerpt

Several World Series rings and two American League MVP plaques belonging to baseball legend Yogi Berra were stolen from the museum that carries his name in a heist that could be worth near $1 million.

The prized possessions of one of baseball's greatest catchers were stolen early Wednesday morning when a group of thieves broke into Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls to burglarize the museum at Montclair State University that houses some of Berra's most prized possessions.

No other items appeared to be stolen, said Montclair State Police Department Chief Paul Cell, whose department is leading an investigation now assisted by the Essex County Police and the FBI's unit in Newark.

The plaques could be worth up to $350,000 a piece, according to Keith Vari of Paragon Auctions in Woodbridge. The value of the rings from his playing days might range from $80,000 to $100,000, while those from 1977 to 1978 may be worth $40,000.

The iconic items would be difficult to pawn - especially without a letter of authenticity, authorities said. Still, area pawnshops are aware of the break-in, and Essex County has offered a $15,000 reward - up from $5,000 Wednesday after receiving anonymous donations - for any information about the theft that could lead to an arrest.

Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, calling the museum an "iconic asset to our county and to parents, children and baseball fans everywhere," said he is "outraged that this vital institution was violated."

On their Facebook page Thursday evening, members of the museum's board of trustees wrote they were "deeply saddened" and urged "anyone with knowledge about the crime to come forward with information."

"We have worked hard to make our beloved Museum & Learning Center a cherished community asset promoting Yogi's legacy of fairness, respect, and sportsmanship," wrote board of trustees chairman Mark Markowitz and vice-chair Julie Jackson. …

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